The Green-Eyed Monster: Study Shows Jealousy Really Does Make You Blind

Illustration for article titled The Green-Eyed Monster: Study Shows Jealousy Really Does Make You Blind

Researchers have found that jealousy actually makes women worse at a visual game — which should be no surprise to anyone who's had her vision, external or internal, clouded by jealousy.

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Scientists at the University of Delaware focused on sexual jealousy. They rounded up heterosexual couples, and asked the man to rate the attractiveness of women while their female partners were instructed to point out targets amid a series of sometimes-disturbing images. The women who felt the most jealous about their boyfriends rating other women were the worst in identifying targets, suggesting they suffered from "emotion-induced blindness." The researchers haven't yet tried to make men jealous — I'd predict similar results — but their findings are no surprise. It's a lucky person — or an extremely evolved one — who hasn't at one point or another felt jealousy taking over all other cognition. And it's not always jealousy over a partner's wandering eye, either.

Some of the most potent jealousy I felt in my life has had nothing to do with sex. I've felt jealous of other women who seemed like they had it all together, like they never worried about anything, or like they were effortlessly cool. And while I'm not sure this jealousy would have blinded me to actual visual stimuli, it did prevent me from seeing something perhaps more important: that few people lead the kind of anxiety-free lives I imagine for people I've envied. Jealousy can blind you to your own strengths but also to other people's difficulties, making you a less empathetic person — which is one reason I'm trying to eliminate it from my life, even if it doesn't make me any better at target practice.

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Blinded By Jealousy? [ScienceDaily]

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DISCUSSION

This is interesting, but just scratches the surface.

I've noticed (in myself and in my friends) that we are most likely to be blinded or distracted by jealousy when a situation places us in direct competition with another woman. And there's something different about this jealousy than when the person we're competing against is a men.

For instance, if I'm in competition with another woman for a work project, I find myself envying that woman's clothes or hair or house or all manner of things that don't really have anything to do with the competition. Whereas if I'm in competition with a man, any jealousy I feel seems more directly related to our jobs and our likelihoods of "winning" the competition in question.

There is something about the way women are publicly compared, and especially about the way we are compared based on our looks and relationship status, that is distinct from other kinds of jealousy. And this kind of jealousy is a lot more distracting for me than other kinds, which can actually be motivating or focusing.